Which topic would you rather read about? I know. Everyone loves dogs and cats, so those books snag my attention, too. Always cute, touching stories. But, here’s another. Chaplain Bob Ossler volunteered at Ground Zero in New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He talked with suffering people day after day. He talked to the […]
Listen to Bob’s Ossler’s hour- long interview about his book, Triumph Over Terror, on “In the Market” with Janet Parshall on Moody Radio, October 22, 2016.
On September 11, 2001, Bob Ossler, then Chicago firefighter, paramedic, and ordained chaplain responded to the call to assist with pastoral care for families and friends of victims, search and recovery workers, construction workers, and volunteers. He spent approximately 45 days at Ground Zero, in blocks of a week or two at a time, whenever he could be away from his regular job. Now Pastor of Visitation at the Cumberland County Community Church in Millville, N.J., Ossler rides as volunteer chaplain with Millville police officers to accidents and fires to comfort victims and offer prayer with their families and friends. Married to Susan for thirty-three years, Ossler has three daughters, Noelle, Michelle, and Heather, and two grandchildren. His faithful three-legged Chihuahua, Maya, hobbles after him almost everywhere he goes at home and in the church offices.
Janet Parshall has been broadcasting from the nation’s capital for over two decades. Her passion is to “equip the saints” through intelligent conversation based on biblical truth. When she is not behind her microphone, Janet is speaking across the country on issues impacting Christians. She has authored several books, including her latest, Buyer Beware: Finding Truth in the Marketplace of Ideas. Parshall and her husband, Craig, live in Virginia, and have four children and six grandchildren.
In the Market with Janet Parshall
In the Market with Janet Parshall, challenges listeners to examine major news stories and issues being debated in the marketplace of ideas and speaks to them with the Word of God. In this fast-paced, caller-driven program, Janet evaluates newsworthy topics with guests and listeners using the Bible as a framework for discussion. This daily program addresses relevant issues important to Christians, with an engaging mix of listener interaction and commentary from highly respected guests.
Hi, Dear Friends. I was given the privilege of speaking at the Millville, NJ 911 Memorial Service with some fine dignitaries. I shared one of the stories about Ground Zero Heroes out of our book, Triumph Over Terror.
First responders, emergency workers, firefighters, police officers, construction workers, search and rescue teams, search and recovery teams, and all the volunteers associated with the war-zone clean-up of ruin and loss–these were the true Ground Zero Heroes. Showing strength deep within their souls, these men and women embodied the definition of endurance, heart, and true grit.
These heroes worked long hours during the day and then worked more hours at night under blazing lights. Committed to teamwork, they worked to the point of exhaustion and beyond, single-minded in purpose and laser-focused on the job at hand. After the hope of finding survivors faded, they doggedly searched for remains of friends and civilians.
Danger surrounded them. Cave-ins occurred without warning. The air they breathed contained not only the stench of death, but also asbestos particles, fiberglass splinters, glass fibers, toxic chemicals, and incinerated human remains–air that could poison their futures.
Quiet and unassuming, the word “quit” did not exist in the Ground Zero Heroes’ vocabulary. They measured time not in billable hours, but how well they accomplished each job.
Some didn’t like the label “hero.” Many brushed it off, insisting, “I’m just doing my job,” or “I’m too busy to think of that nonsense.” In a place where others lost their lives, some refused to be called heroes.
A few said, “It’s hard to be called a hero when you feel so beaten down and demoralized.” But these folks rose up out of the ashes and served well. They deserve to be called heroes.
It was truly an honor to share with the Millville Fire Department, Police Department, Emergency Services, and the people of Millville, NJ.
Triumph Over Terror is at Bogart’s Book Store on 103 High Street, Millville, NJ or on Amazon. The Kindle version of the book is available now for preorder and will be out September 15. It will be in bookstores around the country soon.
Thanks again and God bless you folks. Bob Ossler Chaplain
This news story just breaking.
K-9 Officer Rio and his handler Officer John Butschky of the Millville, NJ Police Department, read Chaplain Bob Ossler’s book, Triumph Over Terror, and give it a five-woof rating. Perhaps that will earn Officer Rio five doggies treats. Yes?
Thanks for the great review, Officers Rio and John.
#Never forget those brave heroes and citizens of our country who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.
On the 15th Anniversary of 9-11 Terrorist Attacks
For more photos and reflections on 9-11 preview Triumph Over Terror by Chaplain Bob Ossler and Janice Hall Heck.Click here to preview Triumph Over Terror on Amazon.
Every book has a backstory…that is, how it came to be.
The germination of Chaplain Bob Ossler’s book, Triumph Over Terror, started at a writers critique group where Bob told about his 9-11 experiences at Ground Zero in New York City. The members of the group were spellbound. We insisted that Bob get to work on writing his story. And the rest is history…
This post, Blog Your Book? Why Not Email It!, from Janice Hall Heck’s website shares a bit more information and also an excerpt from the Preface of the book.
After September 11th, the common denominator of human suffering bonded everyone together in New York City. We all struggled with our emotions, from street sweeper to firefighter, from volunteer to high-ranking official, from office worker to family member, from church secretary to chaplains.
No one escaped the emotional agony accompanying this terrorist attack on this major city and our country. Everyone had a story: where he or she was when the terrorist attack occurred, which family member or friend was killed, who’d miraculously survived. Despite emotional pain almost beyond comfort, we witnessed each other’s inner strength.
In the early days after the attack, we couldn’t say, “Time will heal this sorrow.” The shock and devastation froze all comprehension of how one could ever possibly recover from such a life-shattering event. Even now, years later, we cry at annual memorial ceremonies when speakers stir our memories, reawakening long buried feelings and anxieties about the terror attacks. Each new attack anywhere in the world triggers anxiety. But the comfort we found in each other and in God helped us take each difficult, tiny step to move through the long journey of mourning.
At Ground Zero, people needed to talk about their experiences. Putting their stories into words was the first step to process their grief, even when the storytellers were unaware of this. Those who vented their sorrow experienced a measure of relief, but only for a time.
Haunting memories refused to leave. Flashbacks and nightmares revived fears. Telling and retelling these stories became a necessity. Non-talkers harbored their hurt and suffered silently, often alone, and probably for longer periods of time.
One day on the perimeter of Ground Zero, while talking with another volunteer, a young NYPD officer tugged on my sleeve and interrupted our conversation.
“Fadda, Fadda,” he said in a strong New York accent. “Can we talk, Fadda?”
Clergy denominations like “Father” or “Reverend” or “Rabbi” didn’t matter at Ground Zero. People saw our white clergy collars or CHAPLAIN written on our turnout gear and hard hats, and we became their spiritual fathers.
“Of course we can talk.”
The NYPD officer’s eyes flooded with tears. Trying to maintain his composure, his voice trembled as he spoke. “I’m supposed to be brave, but I’m scared. I saw that second airplane hit Tower 2, and I kept looking and looking. I couldn’t turn away from that sight. I saw people in those windows with no hope . . . with smoke pouring out around them. No one could possibly reach them. And those jumpers . . . took my breath away. I saw ash-covered office workers and executives carrying brief cases running from that boiling, massive smoke-and-ash cloud charging after them down the street. So many people needed help, but I couldn’t help anyone. I needed to run myself, but I froze on the spot.”
He started to cry. “I thought, maybe this was it. Maybe my time had come. What could I do? Maybe there’d be another attack. Maybe I’d die.”
I listened to this police officer ramble on until he talked through his emotional panic and calmed down a bit. I had no direct answers for him; he entertained the same questions we all asked. But one thing calmed my nerves—my faith in God and my hope in eternity.
After we talked for a while, the officer asked, “Can you pray for me?”
Like others and myself during times of deep fear and trembling, he appeared headed for a nervous breakdown. I shared Scripture offering these words of comfort for that dangerous emotional zone: “[God] Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)
As a man of faith himself, these particular verses comforted him.
The pain, suffering, and tears I saw in this officer and many others brought me to my knees every day. As I talked with each person in distress, I waited through their panic attacks and listened through the rash of jumbled words until they calmed down. In this state of emotion, people just needed to talk. At this stage of the crisis, I was present, offered comfort, and shared a brief prayer, if wanted. I did not offer advice. I was just there to listen.
The physical and emotional obstacles these folks faced while working on the Pile evoked intense frustration and sorrow. God, prayer, and our friendship with each other helped us through. We could not have done it alone. We leaned upon the strength of our faith and verses like Psalm 34:17: “The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
Emotional turmoil at Ground Zero was inescapable. We all suffered from anxiety and depression from time to time. When physical and emotional exhaustion controlled my own body and brain, I escaped my darkest moments by picking up my Bible and reading about David’s suffering in the Psalms. His words resonated with my deflated feelings. Psalm after psalm, story after story, verse after verse portrayed David’s agony and sorrowful pleadings to God, giving voice to my misery. I prayed David’s words: “Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for help.” (Psalm 5:1-2)
Throughout the 150 chapters of Psalms, David and other psalmists poured out their hearts to the Lord. Yet their pleadings always began or ended with praise for our all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God, reminding me to praise God regardless of the circumstances. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
“Fadda, Fadda, Can We Talk?” Triumph Over Terror By Chaplain Bob Ossler with Janice Hall Heck
Chaplain Bob Ossler, now Pastor of Visitation at Cumberland County Community Church in Millville, NJ, continues to volunteer as Police Chaplain with the Millville, NJ Police Department.
Janice Hall Heck is a blogger and editor.